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What is Cosmos (ATOM)
Dubbed ‘The Internet of Blockchains,’ Cosmos Network is a next-generation public blockchain at the convergence of scalability and interoperability. Cosmos is based on a blockchain engine called ‘Tendermint,’ and is generally a hub-and-spoke model for other blockchains to plug into -- facilitating interoperability of assets and better scalability.
Cosmos (ATOM) features
The network recently launched its inaugural mainnet -- the Cosmos Hub -- bootstrapping a full implementation of a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus network.
Cosmos raised $17.3 million in its April 2017 ICO for its native token ATOM, which is used in the validation process of blocks in the staking consensus and network governance.
Multi-Chain Framework Design and Interoperability
Cosmos is based on a modular framework for connecting different blockchains within a standardized protocol. The recently launched ‘Cosmos Hub’ is the central hub of the hub-and-spoke model, with other blockchains functioning as ‘zones’ that are all attached via the network’s unique Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol.
Tendermint is the underlying technology behind Cosmos, and we can break it down into two primary components:
1. The Proof-of-Stake Consensus Engine
2. Application BlockChain Interface (ABCI)
Tendermint core is the underlying consensus mechanism of Cosmos and is a PoS network. Networks that plug into Cosmos can trivially exchange assets native to each others’ chains using the IBC, and they do not have to forfeit their own consensus mechanisms.
The Application BlockChain Interface (ABCI) is layered on top of Tendermint and is a programming language-agnostic boundary between the developer SDK for the network and the complex Tendermint Core. The IBC is contained within the ABCI layer. Developers can build applications on top of ABCI with the Cosmos SDK in the programming language of their choice.
Cosmos is scalable because it is a PoS system and independent networks retain their own consensus when plugged into Cosmos. Different blockchains seamlessly exchange value with each other, and much of the processing capacity of transactions is off-loaded between hubs.
Separating the most salient elements of Cosmos we find:
2. Cosmos SDK
Tendermint enables different blockchains to plug into Cosmos while the network remains sovereign in its consensus. It is a PoS design and works well with other PoS blockchains wishing to join the ecosystem.
The Cosmos SDK is an abundant resource framework for building applications on Cosmos.
The IBC is the standardized protocol that allows the different blockchains in Cosmos to communicate and transfer value with each other.
The ATOM Token, Governance, and Future Direction
The ATOM token is the native token used for staking and governance in the Cosmos network. In April, the Cosmos community initiated Phase 2 of the network’s mainnet with a proposal voted and approved that enabled the transfer of ATOM tokens in the network.
Governance in the Cosmos Hub follows and on-chain model where delegators and validators -- both ATOM holders -- vote on proposals that determine the future of the network.
Cosmos recently launched the Lunie Wallet, which can be used by users, delegators, and validators to store and transfer ATOM tokens. There are currently more than 190 million ATOM tokens in circulation and a total supply of nearly 238 million.
Moving forward, the larger goal of Cosmos is to have numerous blockchains gravitate towards its ecosystem. The network wants to solve the siloed nature of public and private blockchains, enabling them to scale and expedite innovation via their collaboration.
Cosmos also is actively working on a bridge to Ethereum called ‘Ethermint,’ which is compatible with Ethereum’s virtual machine. This means that developers can actually port smart contracts and decentralized applications over to the Cosmos network from Ethereum.
Among a new wave of blockchains focusing on scalability and interoperability, Cosmos is rapidly gathering a growing development community and application ecosystem.